Strobecom II

I found a copy of the Tomar Electronics Strobecom II System Manual [pdf] on the sidewalk while walking through my hood last week. As a belated contribution to m.ammoth’s reading the Infrastructural City and discussion about ‘Traffic’, I though it would be worth sharing some excerpts about this disruptive technology that is invading our traffic intersections.

‘ The Strobecom II system is designed to aid in the transit of designated vehicles through the traffic control system, to to their destination… At no time should a driver of a vehicle expect that he [sic] is guaranteed to receive protected right-of-way through traffic intersections. Drivers of vehicles that will operate outside of normal traffic laws and conventions must always take responsibility for ensuring the safe passage of his[sic] vehicle through an intersection regardless of the operation or non-operation the Strobecom II system.’

So what is the Strobecom II?

‘Strobecom II is a state of the art, optical, traffic preemption and priority control system. Unlike previous generations of optical traffic control systems, Strobecom II allows vehicles with varying missions and mission priorities to announce their presence to a traffic control system, and receive customized responses from the traffic control system related to the requesting vehicle’s mission.’

Ah, this is that little black cone sitting next to the traffic signal with that white like that blinks when there is a fire engine or ambulance approaching that holds the light green or turns it red so they can get through an intersection…

So how does it work?

‘A Strobecom II system, employing Tomar optical emitters and optical signal processor (OSP) cards can preempt intersections at a range from 200 to 2500 feet. Preemption is initiated using signlas in two industry standard optical bands. The Emergency Band uses the industry standard high priority carrier frequency and the Transit Band uses the low priority carrier frequency…’

‘The Strobecom II system consists of two major sub-systems. The emitter sub-system is installed on the vehicle and transmits the preemption initiation signal on the selected optical band. the receiver sub-system is installed in the control cabinet at the intersection and detects the signal being emitted by a vehicle, measures its range to the intersection, arbitrates between vehicles competing for the right-of-way and initiates the selected response actions.’

What they don’t specify, is if the frequency is a color of light or the intervals of the flashing light in the emitter. Of course municipalities and agencies want to limit the deployment of this technology and the availability for baddies and regular Joes hijacking  traffic lights to their own advantage. Yes, there even was a Numb3rs episode that revolved around catching a vigilante who was doing this. So you don’t need to hack into the traffic light control system like they ‘did’ in the Italian Job to gain superpowers over traffic jams – you just need a Strobecom II emitter!

2 thoughts on “Strobecom II

  1. Pingback: reading the infrastructural city: chapter five index – mammoth // building nothing out of something

  2. Later versions of systems like this change all the lights to red, instead of switching one set to green. Any vehicle that should be legitimately using the system can use sirens and lights to flush traffic out of the intersection and cross against the red. The systems have been abused in the wild, and this fixes that problem.

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